Coyote Girls are now banned from dancing in public places, particularly near Buddhist temples, and more measures are in the works.

Coyote Girls are the rage in Thailand after the film Coyote Ugly featuring a group of seductive dancers on bar tops was shown in 2000. The Thai Coyote Girls, dressed in scanty clothing, sway and gyrate under broad daylight in car shows, product launchings and shopping malls. They become such a regular feature in Thailand that a group even performed for soldiers in front of tanks immediately after the military coup in September this year.

The land of contrast – permissive tolerance for prostitutes as well as deep respect for Buddhist monks, frequent political coup coupled with unquestioning loyalty to the monarch – inevitably culminated in the clash of one value over another. Queen Sirikit expressed her disapproval in writing to The Culture Ministry after witnessing a group of Coyote Girls performing near a temple in Nong Khai in the middle of October. That day was the end of Buddhist Lent, a three-month period when Buddhists try to refrain from indulgence. The Ministry scrambled to placate the monarch by launching a moral crusade and restricting the Coyote Girls’ dancing to nightclubs and bars. This is tantamount to ‘covering the carcass of an elephant with a small pan.’ The sleaziness and vice that continue to plague Thailand are swept under the carpet or hidden away so that appearances can be maintained. Night life goes on in Thailand. But is Buddha fooled? Does ‘see no evil’ really mean ‘do no evil’, as the three wise monkeys of Buddhism preach?

Many students become coyote dancers to finance their studies. Some are fortunate enough to carry on their education while a few become university drop-outs thanks to their part-time dancing work.